One thing both straight and LGBTQ+ folks can agree on: Dating is a struggle, no matter what method you choose. You could courageously strike up a conversation with a stranger at your neighborhood bar or you could ask a friend to set you up with one of their friends—but if you’re like most people, you probably turn to the online dating apps. That’s particularly true if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community, who, according to a Pew Research Center survey, are twice as likely as straight adults to have used a dating site or app.
As a result, many mainstream dating apps have taken steps to become more inclusive, and, even better, new LGBTQ+ dating apps are constantly turning up. So to help you meet your match, we’ve rounded up some of the best LGBTQ+ dating apps you can download right now. Some cater to certain segments of the LGBTQ+ acronym, like Grindr (which primarily targets men) or Lex (which is basically for anyone but straight and/or a cisgender men), while others are for the queer community as a whole. Some are great choices if you’re looking for a long-term relationship, and others are ideal for something a little less serious.
The bottom line? These LGBTQ+ dating app options all serve different needs. So if one doesn’t work, in the words of the immortal Aaliyah, dust yourself off and try again.
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Scruff might have a reputation solely as a hook-up app, but not so, according to its CEO Eric Silverberg. “Members all over the world have met their partners and husbands on SCRUFF, and we’re delighted by the stories of love shared with us over the years.” One key feature that differentiates Scruff, an app that caters to gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals, from its competitors is “Scruff Match”: single guys looking for dates are only shown other single guys open to dating or relationships. One of the biggest ways to stand out from the competitors on an app like Scruff? A clear picture of your face—which will undoubtedly stand out against a sea of torsos and blurry shots. Scruff is free, but you can try Scruff Pro for $19.99/month, which offers unlimited search, filters, and the ability to sort your grid of perspective matches.
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Grindr is often regarded for its contributions to hook-up culture since it allows you to instantly meet up with people that can be as close as feet away. But make no mistake, Grindr can be a place for love. The app is is particularly good if you’re of the “see now, buy now” persuasion in that it presents LGBTQ+ in closest proximity to where you are, making the opportunity to take the conversation from online to IRL both easier and faster. It also has the biggest name recognition within the space. It’s that popularity that makes the user pool particularly wide, and as a result, diverse. The app is particularly targeted toward men, and offers both a free version and an “XTRA” (with free trial) starting at $19.99.
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Originally founded in 2011 as a “better version of Grindr,” according to the company, Hornet has since become the world’s largest gay app with 30 million users worldwide, including the US, Brazil, Turkey, and Russia. “Our mission is to create a digital home where queer men feel they belong and are supported—and also where they can possibly find Mr. Right,” says Hornet CEO Christof Wittig. In addition to the app, which caters specifically to the B, G, T, and Q letters of the acronym, Hornet also offers a “stories” section on its website with LGBTQ+ focused content, from tips on how to avoid injuring yourself when shaving down there to lists of the best local bathhouses. Really, Hornet is more of a social app than an explicit dating app, one meant to cultivate meaningful connections. This app is free, but like many of the others, offers a premium version starting at $9.99/month.
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Jack’d self-identifies as “the most diverse digital queer space in the world.” According to CEO Eric Silverberg (who also oversees Scruff), the app is known as a place where users can be themselves and find connections without fear of the kind of racism and harassment that can be commonplace on such apps. Like Scruff, it caters to the GBTQ letters of the acronym. “We strive to make sure that Jack’d is a true safe space, where people can be both sexually and emotionally open, and because of this, Jack’d is one of the best places for QPOC to find dates and create new relationships.” To that end, early in its history, Jack’d focused on the queer community of color through its marketing, sponsorships, and social media, which is an effort that continues today, according to Silverberg. Jack’d is free and offers a Pro version for $9.99 per month.
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HER is focused on “the unique behaviors and community interests of queer womxn,” founder and CEO Robyn Exton, explains, saying that as a by queer/for queer app, the queer experience was the top consideration from conception. “We have 17 sexualities and 18 gender identities. You can assign more than one pronoun to your profile. We’ve created communities to connect you with other folks with the same identity, from Queer Womxn of Color to Trans Womxn to They/Them communities.” Those gender identities include womxn, non-binary, gender fluid, pangender, agender, questioning, gender non-conforming, two-spirit and more. The app, which is the largest for LGBTQ women, is free, but also offers premium memberships, starting at $14.99 per month.
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Hinge differs itself from the competition through personality-revealing prompts in an attempt to allow matches to get to know each other better. It’s also the app where Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg met his husband Chasten. The company’s ultimate goal? To eventually become irrelevant to potential users: “Based on user surveys and in-person focus groups, we’ve determined that many LGBTQ+ members have frustrations around dating apps as many are used to facilitate hookups, rather than forge lasting relationships,” a spokesperson for the app says. “Hinge’s goal is to get all members off the app and out on a great date—and eventually, for members to delete the app for good.” Until then, you can download the app for free or pay to be a Preferred Member (subscriptions start at $19.99 for one month).
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In 2017, Kelly Rakowski launched @personals, an enormously successful Instagram account that posted user-submitted, text-based personal ads (yes, like the ones found in the backs of newspapers and magazines) from queer, bisexual, transgender, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary people looking for love. From that, the free dating app Lex, which is short for Lexicon, was born. Like the old-school Instagram account, Lex encourages users to focus on the things people say, rather than what they look like (“Text first, selfies second,” according the company), which is why ads on Lex include a 34-character heading, a 300-character body, and the option to link to an Instagram account.
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While JSwipe is a dating app that caters to the Jewish community, it was founded on a universalist mindset, according to creator David Yarus. “The beautiful thing about JSwipe is it’s meant to be used to help you find love, whatever that means and looks like to you,” he says. “We’ve been told by the LGBTQ+ Jewish community that we’re the only Jewish app/site that allows for that…which we hope isn’t true!” Plus, you don’t have to be Jewish to use the app—it’s open to anyone and everyone who celebrates Jewish culture. (You can identify as Just Jewish, Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, Traditional, Willing to Convert, or Other.) It’s free, but offers a paid, premium subscription, called First Class, for $17.99/month.
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Feeld, which was founded in 2014, is a dating app open to all genders and sexual identities, aiming to create an inclusive space “where everyone can be honest with themselves while being responsible towards others.” The app offers its members more than 20 gender and sexual identity options to choose from, as well as the ability to pair profiles with a partner for polyamorous couples or couples looking to explore together. “This aims to normalize unconventional relationship structures and ethical non-monogamy,” says Lyubov Sachkova, the company’s communications lead. You can download the app for free or pay for a Majestic Membership ($11.99 per month), which offers additional features, like the ability to see who has already liked you.
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“We are an app if you want a relationship,” Amanda Bradford, Founder and CEO of The League says. “A real one.” While other apps may be more vague in defining what to them a connection looks or feels like, The League is for those looking for love. And though the app is for everyone, “most of our users from the LGBTQ community are gay.” The League is unique in that it offers users a nightly “Happy Hour” in which they provide you with anywhere from 3-7 matches via the app’s algorithm. “We were curated for the professional in mind,” Bradford says. “Most of our users are extremely educated and profession driven. They want to meet their match—a partner who will complement them and walk side by side and support them in their careers.” There are a variety of membership types, from free to $99 (member) to $199 (owner) and all the way up to $999 (investor).
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Sure, it’s not a conventional dating app by conception—but when we polled LGBTQ+ people to find out where they’ve had the most success in courting dates, dozens responded with Instagram. “I met my husband at an AA meeting and then searched Instagram for a man named Mike M and found him,” author Jackson Marano-Tilley told me. Some important caveats: Being that Instagram isn’t designed as a dating app, keep in mind that not everyone is single and/or looking, which is predominantly the case on a dating app. Still, this can be a great place to strike up a conversation and get a sense of how a potential date sees the world…quite literally. It usually begins by going down a wormhole, seeing a comment on a friend’s post that peaks your interest or seeing a photo of someone you know with someone else you find attractive. Many call the courtship, in this instance, “sliding into the DMs,” with DM meaning “direct messages.”